NOTE: My internet is not cooperating. I'm posting links, and I'll try to properly embed the images later.
To start furthest back chronologically, I find a connection to the luminist paintings of the Hudson River School, a collection of 19th century American artists who aspired to capture nature in all its honesty and beauty. The works of Heade, Church, and Cole have always piqued my interest, but I think this painting by Samuel Coleman best encapsulates what I love about 19th century American landscape painting:
This painting shows the revolution of the century - Industrialization. It was a common foe of the Hudson River School mentality. In this picture, I see a sense of loss at the intrusion of modern, smoke-emitting technology in an otherwise serene landscape, but there is also the excitement of advancement. In these four samples of art, technology and science play a recurring theme, because my mind has always tilted in that direction. I am curious not just about the world, but specifically mankind's place in it, and the push and pull between how we affect the world and how it inspires us.
Okay, this is a bit of a leap, both chronologically and... in terms of realism, obviously:
This is a screenshot from the videogame Myst. I purposefully chose a screenshot with crude graphics, as opposed to the more refined graphics of the later games in the series, to explain that this was the blocky and unrefined imaginary world I essentially grew up in. No screenshot could convey the experience of playing - though exploring and analysing would be more accurate terms - in this game, which is quite literally a place made entirely by man - with both naturalistic and manmade structures within it. First-person adventure games like those of the early Myst series demonstrate man's ability to fully transport ourselves through imagination and technology. In this way, we can fully imagine ourselves through places - we have the capability of fabricating imagined places of our own. I find that this idea can be applied far less literally all over the world.
(THIS IS WHERE I RAN OUT OF TIME AND I WILL EDIT THIS LATER. I'll be going on to talk about "Do You Realize" by the Flaming Lips and developmental art from Pixar, specifically the work of Lou Romano. Ciao! <3)